In the Studio with Shalu Juneja

I love to visit the Kochi Biennale in India. It has work from artists from all over the world and is a spiritual experience; one is with the art, interacting and completely involved with it. 

Shalu Juneja

Shalu Juneja was born and raised in Chennai, India. She completed her post graduate studies in Fine Arts at the Stella Maris College in Chennai after which she moved to Ahmedabad where she continues to live and work. Shalu works across diverse media such as charcoal sketching, painting and sculptures. Her art delves into human beings and nature, especially the female form and has a figurative style. She loves to experiment with different techniques and textures on her canvas. Shalu has exhibited her work widely at galleries throughout India.

J’AIPUR: Please introduce our readers to your series of works that are part of our online exhibit. How did these works come about?

These works are in mixed media and part of a series called ‘Body Language’. Suffering from a chronic skin ailment, I have likened my skin to the surface of the earth. Just as the earth is abused and contaminated, the human skin reacts similarly to emotional and physical triggers leaving a scar. Both are suffering in the form of erosion, burns and stagnation. Hence, the brown and indigo colors represent the scorching earth and the murky, scarce water respectively. 

“Skin Deep,” 2021 (Mixed media on canvas)

J’AIPUR: What is your background and how did you become an artist? 

I have a Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the Stella Maris College in Chennai and spent my earlier years working in mediums such as ceramics, wood and stained glass. At present, I have entered the field of art education as Co-founder and Director of Uno Lona Academy in Ahmedabad (India), a specialized arts and design institute. I have also started up my art practice again after a long break but this time with greater maturity and fearlessness.

J’AIPUR: Describe your creative process. 

My art is part planned and part spontaneous. Although I sketch my figures beforehand, I first make a lots of marks on my canvas using multiple mediums such as gun powder, rust deposits and scratches. I also layer my works with thick texture and splashes of paint, dripping at will, and then slowly getting the forms out once I see them emerge. 

J’AIPUR: Who are some women artists (living or dead) that you admire?

I particularly  like Amrita Sher-Gil for her sensuous portrayal of female figures. Amongst the contemporary women artists, I  am moved by the works of Sudipta Das and Shilpa Gupta.

J’AIPUR: What inspires you to create?

Life — art saved my life!

J’AIPUR: Name an art exhibition that had a lasting impression upon you.

I love to visit the Kochi Biennale in India. It has work from artists from all over the world and is a spiritual experience; one is with the art, interacting and completely involved with it. 

J’AIPUR: Name a favourite artwork of yours.

I particularly love “What Was I Thinking” (2020). The entire process of burning gun powder and rusting the surfaces with a minimal use of colour was fun. 

“What Was I Thinking,” 2020 (Mixed media on canvas)

J’AIPUR: What are some tools, techniques and materials that you employ to create your work?

I use anything that creates a mark and surprises me — from kitchens scrubbers to natural substances. I am particularly fond of my catalyst and squeegee without which I cannot function . 

J’AIPUR: How would you like to see your artistic practice/career evolve over the next few years?

At present, I consider myself as an emerging artist as I have just begun. I would definitely want to improve my art and express myself fearlessly.  I also want to show my work to galleries all over the world, as much as possible, and particularly at art fairs. 

J’AIPUR: What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an artist?

Work relentlessly and honestly. Also, never stop learning.

J’AIPUR: What are some of your favourite art world related social media accounts, podcasts or websites?

I follow many art pages on Instagram and listen to podcasts occasionally. I like to view gallery pages such as that of Saatchi.  

J’AIPUR: What do you like to do when you are not making art?

Watch Netflix, or read a book.

J’AIPUR: How do you navigate the art world in terms of finding opportunities and building a collector base?

I mostly try to apply to open calls and offers for group shows and send in my work to galleries for review. I have yet to find a footing in the commercial aspect as I have just begun, but the fact that I am creating and taking each day as it comes is helpful.

oil painting, Indian artists, Shalu Juneja, online art exhibit, world art, women artists

“Dialogues,” 2020 (Mixed media on canvas)

J’AIPUR: What are some challenges you have faced as an artist?

Networking. I find it is essential to connect with the art world in order to be seen and heard.

J’AIPUR: How do you think the art world can better support women artists? 

Times have changed and we find women artists are now more proactive in their participation. Their fearlessness and bold, unconventional attitudes are attracting a lot of interest. Galleries and private institutions must do their bit too. 

Contact us if you are interested in more information about the artist and purchasing her works. We encourage you to support women artists to bring greater diversity into the art world! 

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